Hope Summer Repertory welcomes back New York City-based actress Laurie Veldheer for the 20th anniversary of her titular role in “Annie” and the launch of HSRT’s new theatre workshops for young people.

The new program will open with two audition master classes on July 8 and 22 by Veldheer in celebration of “Annie’s” return to the HSRT stage this season beginning July 7.  It will continue on July 24-August 5 with workshops led by current HSRT actors and featuring themes ranging from creating a character with Curious George to learning the basics of improv.  All participants will also receive a t-shirt and a ticket to a “Schoolhouse Rock” or “Annie” performance.

The program connects to one of the founding principles of Hope Summer Repertory Theatre, which debuted in 1972: producing professional theatre with an educational element.

Veldheer is presenting the two master classes for aspiring actors in Western Michigan, offering a junior class for ages eight-13 on Saturday, July 8, and a senior class for ages 14 and above on Saturday, July 22. She will provide instruction on the craft of preparing and performing an audition at a professional level, and participants will be given the chance to work individually with her to improve their technique.

Veldheer, who is originally from Grand Rapids, appeared in the original Broadway company of “Newsies” before taking over the role of Sophie Sheridan in “Mamma Mia!” on Broadway. Her regional credits include “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” “Next to Normal” and “Hairspray.”  In addition to her role in “Annie” in 1997, her Hope Summer Repertory Theatre credits include “Johnny Pye” and “Bye Bye Birdie.”  She has performed extensively in the greater Grand Rapids area in addition to leading master classes at Grand Rapids Civic Theatre. She recently completed a national tour of “Into the Woods.”

The five workshops being led by current HSRT actors are “Curious Creators,” “Act Out with Annie,” “Play On! Improv Camp,” “Creating a Character” and “Musical Theatre Intensive.”  Most will be presented in six-day sessions offered during each of the weeks between July 24 and August 5, with “Musical Theatre Intensive” running on July 18, 20 and 22.

“Curious Creators” is for children ages 3 through young 5; “Act Out with Annie” is for children entering kindergarten through second grade; “Play On! Improv Camp” is for children entering second and third grade or fourth and fifth grade; “Creating a Character” is for children entering fifth and sixth grade; and “Musical Theatre Intensive” is for children entering grades seven-11.  The fees vary by workshop, but range between $75 and $150.

A complete schedule and registration is available at hope.edu/hsrt/workshops.  More information is also available at 616.395.7600 or by emailing hsrt@hope.edu.

Picture in top header: Laurie Veldheer, who held the title role in Hope Summer Repertory Theatre’s 1997 production of “Annie,” has returned and is working with young performers as HSRT stages the musical this year beginning July 7.